MinesNorth Kearsarge MineScrapbook

Scrapbook Fridays: Sixties North Kearsarge Edition

This week’s scrapbook is courtesy long time Copper Country Explorer Paul Meier, who’s lucky enough to have seen (and photographed) the Copper Empire during its twilight years. It was the 1960’s and Paul was a young lad with an interest in Copper Country history and amateur photography (sounds a bit familiar to me). Lucky for us this meant a great many photos of old mine buildings when they were still intact and standing, photos he has graciously offered to share with everyone through Copper Country Scrapbook.

Today’s collection of photos brings us to the North Kearsarge No.4, a shaft which C&H was still using sporadically at the time these photos were taken. Here’s Paul’s description as he remembers it:

“These were made in the 1963-65 era. As you can see North Kearsarge #4 was suffering from deferred maintenance. We know C&H was still sinking the shaft in the late ’40’s and she was probably producing into the ’50’s, perhaps Gordy has some info. By the time these were made she appeared to be abandoned in place. This was not the case. On the second visit, there was a crew working there. C&H was using the shaft for pumping and, despite the run-down look of the building the hoist and boilers were being maintained to access the pumps and as a safety outlet in case of problems in the other Kearsarge Lode shafts. They guys said the boilers were fired and the hoist exercised at least once a month. They were doing the same with the big Ahmeek #3 hoist once that shaft was done producing.”

Paul also laments the digital divide between then and now, and how different things would have been if back then he had the technology available to me now:

“If only there were a time machine to go back with my digital Nikon. Hundreds pictures possible, automation, and instant review. Even B&W in the film era represented a cost to a teenager, so the shots had to be limited. The Argus C-3 camera I had was good but totally manual, no meter, you had to judge the light and set the aperture and shutter speed. When I bought a Pentax Spotmatic SLR in 1969 with an internal match meter I thought I had attain photography heaven. Then came full aperture metering and later automatic exposure.”

My Canon digital SLR has a full auto mode that makes my job a thousand times easier. It also has a 4GB memory card, which provides me with enough room to take as many pictures as I want during as excursion. While Paul probably took a dozen or so at a time, I routinely record an average of about five to six hundred on a typical outing. In fact since CCE’s first post nearly six years ago I’ve taken a total of over 40,000 photos of Copper Country ruins and buildings. Imagine paying developing costs for all those photos back in the 1960’s.

You can view the album in its entirety (nine images in total) below. Make sure to click on each image to see it in full size.


a rear view of the rock house and shaft house

a front view of the rock house

another front view of rock house including view of pulley stand

close view of rock house featuring the bottom of the rock chute, chute control platform, and rock car opening

view of poor rock tram

wide view of host building (far right) and boiler complex (center) from rock house

close view of dry house (this building still stands)

close view of compressor receiver located out front of hoist house

close view of hoisting cable and pulley stand
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  1. I love black and white photography. I think the photo is incredible and look forward to seeing more black and white photos of Copper Country :)

  2. Wow… VERY cool, Paul! Looks like the #4 was yet another of the mines with “interchangeable” buildings, like Osceola #13 and Centennial #6.

  3. Paul, you can sure make a guy wish he were a few years older, all this stuff was around when I was a kid, but was to young to be able to go looking. But then as mentioned, money for film would be a big issue. Besides dad would have probably kicked me in the rear being anywhere near any mining buildings.
    About the only thing I know about N Kearsarge is all work stopped at the end of March 1956 and all underground equipment was brought to the surface by April 25th. I did see N Kearsarge was the central pumping plant for the Kearsarge lode.
    This was out of C&H’s Red Metal News.

  4. Its not the type of camera that makes a picture. Its the talent of the photographer that make the picture. Every picture that isn’t from the Tech archives, has been a quality shot.

  5. is this the site of the humongous rock pile today with ruins across the dirt road? could i sound any more vague? i think i am thinking of a mine northeast of Wolverine

  6. Thanks for the compliments.
    Mark, North Kearsarge #4 was just down the hill from US 41/ M 35 and to the right of the Copper City Road. Not too far up the hill from Hap & Lou’s Bar. The dry was/is a private residence/shop after the mine was scrapped. The snowmobile trail runs through the surface plant now.
    I’m not sure when the rockhouse (shafthouse) was built, but it appears on the 1917 Sanborn maps. I suspect it was designed and erected when the North Kearsarge was controlled by the Osceola Mining Co. Probably 1908 -1917. The prototype for C&H’s “modern” era shaft houses was the structure erected at Seneca #2 (sometimes called the Gratiot) right after WWII. I will scan those negatives shortly. The modern design may well have been inspired by this rockhouse, it was well laid out.

  7. Mark, that rock pile sounds very much like North Kearsarge #1. It has a truly enormous rockpile. The main ruins (hoist especially) are across a 2-track from the pile, but there is also a huge rockhouse foundation right next to the pile.

  8. Osceola Consolidated Mining Co built #4 in 1908-1909, it was built with all the lessons Osceola had learned from mine/surface structure fires, it was the most fire proof they could build. Shaft/rockhouse was steel framed and iron covered, the boiler house built the same way, engine house was brick walls, steel trusses for the roof with a composition roof.

  9. Thanks Gordy. You da man for info. As to wishing you were a bit older, don’t. While there are many upsides to being retired and having seen some of this stuff, the downside is I had to get old.

  10. I forgot, several years ago while I visited the Michigan Tech Archives, I purchased a copy of a survey of the Seneca mine location, #2 shaft shows on it as being a corrugated iron sheathing with a steel frame, this was in 1927, so it looks like C&H used Seneca Copper’s idea for a standard rockhouse.

  11. Thanks Paul for sharing those great pics!!I many times I wish too that todays cameras wouldve been available back in those days. I had taken many pics in the late 60- S early 70-S of inside hoist houses ,mills & related buildings with a sears 127 and a kodak x15 with only a flash and guess work;some turned out good & others not.Any & all mining pics add to the view of copper mining in the CC. Great scrap book seies !

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